The 2021 turkey harvest in Louisiana was down almost 11 percent from 2020 and the culprit was likely heavy spring rains that plagued the state for much of the season, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Small Game Program Manager Cody Cedotal said. A total of 1,886 birds were harvested during the 2021 season, based on turkey tag validation data, down from 2,117 in 2020.
Since 2009, the harvest has averaged 2,006 birds per season.
“Unfavorable weather conditions for much of the season likely affected the overall success of turkey hunters in 2021,’’ Cedotal said. “We had good weather for the Good Friday (April 2) opener and it stayed favorable for much of the first week of the season. During this first week, with the good hunting conditions that existed, harvest was slightly higher compared to the first week of the 2020 season.’’
But the weather for the final three weeks of the season turned sour and harvest figures declined for those weeks from previous year reports for the same time period. Cedotal also said that hunter effort and harvest were likely elevated in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as many more hunters entered the field with additional time on their hands. The 2021 turkey season ended on May 2.
Cedotal said reports and season assessments from hunters ranged from poor to very good. Many hunters indicated increased encounters with jakes, which is an indicator of moderate to good reproduction. Similar reports were noted in 2020.
“However, the intense rain events we continue to experience in some parts of the state are of immediate concern,’’ Cedotal said. “These rain events will likely have a negative impact on reproduction for this year causing nest failures and increased mortality of young wild turkey poults. Hopefully, we can begin to see some dry weather soon which will improve nesting and brood rearing conditions.’’